José Luis Núñez was sentenced to six years in prison for a scheme to bribe senior tax officials to avoid taxes. Joan Gaspart was charged in the 'Spanair case'. Sandro Rosell went after Laporta as soon as he took office. According to his audit, there was a hole of 48 million euros that Laporta had to pay. Rosell himself spent 643 days in custody for money laundering in connection with the audiovisual rights of the Brazilian national football team. Now, Bartomeu has been arrested by the Mossos D'Esquadra along with Barça CEO Óscar Grau; Romà Gómez Ponti, head of legal services; and Jaume Masferrer, advisor to the former president. A group of members denounced the Barça board of directors for unfair administration and corruption between private individuals, although charges of money laundering and diversion of funds can also be added. The Mossos took documentation on 5 July 2020 and eight months later the arrests and, possibly, the investigation of the case have begun.
All FC Barcelona presidents in democracy have had problems with the law. The club is immersed in the worst economic crisis in its history. A ruin that has been brought about by Bartomeu himself due to his economic excesses in sporting matters. Expenditure that is not a crime. A lousy management that will not have incurred in infraction beyond its inability to sign well.
What Bartomeu, Grau, Ponti and Masferrer are being investigated for is being behind the hiring of the company I3 Ventures to damage the image of footballers like Messi or Piqué, former presidents like Joan Laporta or pre-candidates for the Barça presidency like Víctor Font. Bartomeu was clumsy in both form and substance. Hiring the services of a social media management company for just over a million euros and splitting the payments into amounts of 200,000 euros. Attacking club players to protect themselves is not very intelligent either. Public opinion will always value a footballer more highly than a president, no matter how many campaigns are waged against the manager. He who scores goals, calls the shots.
"What a beast Messi has at home. They mess with his son on social networks and Antonella comes out to defend him like a lioness". "Despite all of Guardiola's manoeuvres, Messi is still at Barcelona. Bartomeu has succeeded". "Pep Guardiola speaks well or badly of a country depending on how much he is paid". These are some examples of what the Facebook accounts managed by I3 Ventures published. In the purest style of Russian Fake News in the Trump campaign or in the illegal referendum of 1 October 2017. A rather crude method of influencing people and discrediting all those who could endanger his presidency.
Barça already knew that this was not right. Even before the defamation campaign they were paying for with the soçi's money came to light. Bartomeu put Masferrer out on the street because of 'Barçagate' in a decision to show off. The audit of the club by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) in July 2020 confirmed the splitting of payments to avoid giving explanations to other departments. It also assured that the price for hiring I3 Ventures was within the market rate range. And Barça got off the hook by saying that "the club's internal approval protocols were not complied with" for spending this amount of money on social media monitoring. That report was enough to bring Masferrer back to the club as an advisor to the president. The rinsing he did thanks to the PWC audit has not gone well for Bartomeu. The investigation that the Mossos had already started was not going
The club with the highest income in football is reduced to debts, arrests and judicial investigations. Messi, the best player of all time has been splashed by the bad arts of a president who has not known how to put the club ahead of his position. It is clear that Bartomeu is not Barça, but the trail of recklessness and blunders he has left in his time as president will mark the club institutionally like the nights in Rome or Liverpool in sporting terms.
The candidates for the Barça presidency are finding the job difficult. What they will find when they arrive is a very bitter situation. Pointing fingers at ex-presidents, ex-advisors, pulling up carpets and trying to make the team competitive without a euro in the bank.